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|2 reviews in total|
One of my favorite movies of all time. The story of a team of tough men in Africa capturing wild animals for zoos. This came out in 1962 when I was eight, and I spent that summer in Denver with my Granny. She took me to the movies as much as I wanted, and the movie I repeatedly chose was Hatari! I have no idea how many times I saw it, in the dozens likely. It has most of what you want from a movie: John Wayne, action, adventure, romance, great music, comedy. The cinematography of Tanganyika is stunning, the score by Henry Mancini is one of his best. You will easily recognize the "Baby Elephant Walk" even though you probably didn't know where it came from. Besides John Wayne at his manly best (playing a character with more depth than usual), Red Buttons consistently steals almost every scene he is in, and his monkey-rocket sequences are simply hilarious. Wayne appears to be doing most of his own stunts, and the animal capture scenes are often scary, with Wayne appearing to be in real danger a number of times. The dialog and plot twists are very mildly corny in an early 60s kind of way, but this doesn't detract from the movie at all. Very strongly recommended for anyone wanting a slightly old-fashioned action adventure with a sprinkle of comedy.
Director Stephen Marshall is best known for his documentaries, including some that are Sundance winners. This is his first foray into fictional mainstream films, and it is a promising effort. I am mystified by some of the negativity I read here; granted, Marshall is no Costa-Gravas (yet), but I doubt even Costa-Gravas was Costa-Gravas in his first movie. Working under extreme deadline pressures with a cast of mostly unknowns and a limited budget, he has exemplified making lemonade out of lemons. Since many of his principals are non-actors, the fact that he gets good performances from them speaks well of his directing skills. He also has a painter's eye: there is one scene with Rosario Dawson and her fictional son, shot at sunset as they pretend to fly like the pigeons soaring around them, that is starkly beautiful. The street scenes pulse with life, no doubt because they are real. There are some amusing vignettes on the street that add piquancy to the mix. The modestly named rapper "Immortal Technique" has some interesting scenes, but for some puzzling reason appears to be identifying himself as black, when he is clearly hispanic. "Technique" also rips off the Brahms third symphony (third movement, trust me on this) for his rap, but no shoutouts to Johannes can be found in the credits to enhance his street-cred. I would like to see more character development, but given Marshall's background in documentaries this is not surprising. The motivation of some of the characters was hazy also, and anyone who has been to Times Square knows the big TV screens there are mute. But so what? These are minor issues, and he will learn. I saw the final cut at Sundance in January, and there was a large and enthusiastic crowd. Marshall spoke to us afterward, and came across very well. I look forward to more from this most interesting young director.